Disposal of Needles

We have had a problem the last several weeks with someone throwing away needles/syringes in the bathroom garbage cans. They are not put into any container, just thrown into the garbage. The night cleaning service has found them and justly raised concern for the safety of their people. I checked the CDC and they suggested that proper disposal (if sharps containers are not available) is to put these items into a solid container like a milk carton or soda bottle/can and sealed or closed to insure the items don't come out. We put signs up in every restroom with this information but someone keeps taking them down. Not sure if the person is taking insulin shots or what. Have no idea who it is. We are not a med facility so putting up sharps containers I don't think is required. Anyone else have any experience with this type of thing and what have you done?


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  • Our concerns have been in a somewhat different context as one of our divisions provides trash pick-up. We have been involved with people who carelessly dispose of needles. I would suggest that you do a little quiet investigation. The cleaning crew knows which restroom gets the needles (i.e. mens or ladies and what area). That narrows down your search at the beginning. Also keep in mind that there are a good many substances that people inject other than insulin. You may want to take a needle and have contents analyzed to see what is being injected. Be prepared for unpleasant surprises.
  • We have had discussion on getting it analyzed which will probably be done this week. We have been trying to do some observation but it is occurring in different restrooms (men's) on different floors. It seems to be done late afternoon (since the needles are near the top of the garabage) and so far we have not had any notice from supervisors that anyone is behaving differently in the afternoon. We have 53 total restrooms so staking out would not be easy! I can't seem to find out if sharps containers would be required if we are not a med facility. There is a concern from a cost stand point with that many restrooms and ongoing hazcom disposal.
  • You should not be required to provide sharps containers unless those items are related to your business or services you provide to your employees.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 01-30-06 AT 02:26PM (CST)[/font][br][br]We were having this problem also. I was referred to our local pharmacy for sharps containers. They were provided free of charge. When the containers get full, I am to exchange them for empty ones.

    The problem promptly ended.
  • Did you take them to the pharmacy yourself (assuming this is an external pharmacy and not in house)and exchange them or did you have a hazcom service do it? My problem is, I can't imagine doing it ourselves with 53 restrooms!
  • I understand that watching 53 restrooms to see who is disposing of needles inappropriately is a huge task. However - simply supplying sharps containers for your facility, is a bit like buying your 13 year old child a keg of beer to have at home for a teen superbowl party because you rationalize that they're going to drink anyway. You're inviting trouble into your home - especially if the needles are from illegal drug use. You are implicitly encouraging the behavior and have also created a cache of dirty needles that can be removed from your unmonitored restrooms and re-used throughout your community. Think about this.

    You have stated that you've narrowed down the restrooms where these items seem to be popping up, so monitor those. If you need a drug-free workplace policy that includes random or for-cause testing - get one. If you need a biohazard/sharps policy for employees who have a genuine need for injections on the job, get one and stick to it. Inform all of your employees of the policy and the consequences of ignoring it.
  • I agree with the analogy of bringing the containers in and we have considered that as well. Unfortunately, the restrooms where these have been found are on several different floors on main hallways so the task of monitoring these is not really possible either. We have several hundred employees using each of the locations throughout the day. We have drug free/random for cause policy in place but have had nothing occur with any individual that has caused us to excercise the policy. Anyway, thanks for everybodies input to this...I'll try to follow up later and give you an update with what we did.
  • It may be expensive, but have you thought about doing a fingerprint check? I have no idea what the protocol for this would be or how cumbersome it would be. If you've analyzed the syringes and they contain illegal substances, perhaps your local police dept could initiate the fingerprint check or point you in the right direction, since you're now dealing with a crime.

    Regardless of the cost or effort, I'm sure both would be less than if you have an employee get stuck by one of these syringes and come down with aids or hepatitis. You would probably be in the cross hairs for a huge lawsuit, especially if you knew about the danger in the first place.
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